Starkville cook learns from her mother

BY GINNA PARSONS

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – If you jokingly called Ginnie Weathersby “Betty Crocker,” you wouldn't be too far off the mark.

In the 1960s, Ginnie's mother, Harriet Martin, was an in-home test cook for Betty Crocker.

“She would get recipes in the mail and we'd spend the weekend gathering ingredients and cooking,” said Ginnie, 50. “She'd try a dish three or four times. Then she's send back her corrections. Hamburger Stroganoff is one I remember her testing.”

Ginnie started helping her mother in the kitchen by doing some chopping and stirring.

“Then she made a deal with us,” Ginnie said. “She'd buy all the material for my sisters and me if we'd make our own clothes. I was not much of a seamstress. So she made another deal with me. I'd cook dinner for her and she'd sew my clothes for me.”

When Ginnie left for college, she got her mother's “little black book” and began copying some of her favorite recipes.

“Half were ones we were cooking for Betty Crocker, like tacos, chicken a la king and spaghetti – what she considered to be her basics,” she said.

Ginnie had a total of 23 roommates, and she used them all as guinea pigs.

“I made a deal with them,” she said. “I'd cook if they'd clean up. I would trade somebody cooking for cleaning in a heartbeat.”

It's no wonder that this love of cooking attracted Ginnie to a partner who also likes to cook: her husband, George Weathersby.

George grew up in New Orleans in a household where red beans and rice, courtbouillon and stuffed artichokes were everyday fare.

“My mom didn't really teach me how to cook,” said George, 49. “I really learned it on my own. We would help her in the kitchen – sous chef kind of stuff. But to eat something good is what prompted me to learn to cook.”

George and Ginnie don't just share their culinary delights with their two children, Sean and Rosemary. For more than 20 years, they've been regulars in the Left Field Lounge, a group of baseball tailgaters. And they help cook for the East Oktibbeha Volunteer Fire Department three to four times a year.

Besides Cajun/Creole cuisine, George is also famous in these parts for his barbecued ribs, which are seasoned and served with a dry rub, not a glaze.

“People eat his ribs and say they're the best they've ever tasted. They say they're better than the ones at Corky's or the Rendezvous” restaurants in Memphis, Ginnie said proudly. (George just calls them “pretty good ribs.”)

At the Weathersby home in the Osborn community just outside of Starkville, it's Ginnie who does most of the day-to-day cooking. She and George own and operate Osborn Flower Co. – wholesale greenhouses full of blooming plants – and one-dish meals are a staple in the home of this working couple.

“The kids like my sweep-the-floor spaghetti,” Ginnie said. “I put everything in there – carrots, artichokes, black olives – with deer meat in a tomato-based sauce. I put carrots in everything. I believe in adding all the extra vegetables I can in anything I cook.”

Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to 662-842-2233 or e-mail them to ginna.parsons@djournal.com. Each Cook of the Week will receive $10 from the Daily Journal.